British defeat at Gaza
The First Battle of Gaza was the first attempt by the Allies to advance south into Ottoman territory.
Fighting took place around the town of Gaza on the Mediterranean coast. The British forces were close to capturing the town when the order came to withdraw, as it was feared huge Ottoman reinforcements were on the way.
The Ottomans increased defences around the town and when the British attacked again in April, again they were defeated. British losses were heavy.
This British defeat was followed a few weeks later by the even more emphatic defeat of the Eastern Force at the Second Battle of Gaza in April 1917.
In Britain, the weather at the start of 1917 had been bitterly cold and in March there was higher than average rainfall and even snow in places. Morale in Richmond and across the country was low with no end to the war in sight.